Long live the portfolio

September 25th, 2009
folio1 After plotting the demise of the printed portfolio most of the summer in favor of a digital version I put the finishing wraps on my new beautiful 11x14 self-printed book earlier this month.  You didn't read that incorrectly, I did a 180.  After a lot of tinkering and informal research I came to the conclusion that most of my clients weren't going to get, or even especially like, my digital idea, that the presentation itself just wasn't dynamic enough yet, and most of all trying to sell editors, ADs, and art buyers on my photography is job enough without adding a potentially vexing technology into the discussion. So I created a print book, complete with new engraved covers, and it was just as tough and great of a process as I've recounted on this blog a couple of times.  But instead of turning my back on the digital version or putting it on the back burner to fight another day, I decided to make it a co-star in the form of custom USB flash drives that I'm giving away as my "leave behinds" to all of the fantastic people who have made time to see me.  I'm thinking about it as softening the ground for an eventual full-on move into digital, but at the very least it's pretty cool to play with what is possible, and thus far the flash drives have been well-received. folio2 Previously promising myself and my rep that I wasn't going to present another portfolio with those awful poly plastic pages, I had little other choice than to go back to Epson (the 2880) and work with a fantastic, thick double-sided paper (Museo II 365).  The new Epson worked exceptionally well though the process is of course a massive pain (in the end I chose to punch holes, and score/fold each pages myself... not fun).  But I'm really proud and excited for the book and of course because I did the entire thing "in-house" I can update it at will. folio3 The USB drives will be a constant process of tinkering and perfecting flash drives for each of my clients (one of the cool things about using digital).  Right now the drive contains multiple digital versions of the book (Quicktime formatted, self-playing movie, iPhone-ready version of movie, and a PDF version of the portfolio) as well as extras such as a digital Tearsheet book (another self-playing movie), links to websites, rep, blog, twitter/facebook and more.  Eventually the USB will include more behind the scenes and fun stuff that shows how and why I shoot. One of the major reasons that I decided to stay away from the print book was of course cost, and absolutely this new book wasn't cheap (though I saved a whole lot doing it myself, despite buying the new Epson).  But I just wasn't ready to rely on a Blurb for my main portfolio presentation (though after the awards event for Photography Book Now I can definitely say that I'm impressed).  To me, as I've talked about before, photography is a luxury service and must be treated as such from a marketing standpoint.  Especially in a tough economic climate I need to stand apart and hopefully this book and selection of my work will do that. folio4 Round 2 of the process is coming up fast as I re-configure the first editorial/portrait book seen above into more of a commercial/advertising presentation in time for my rep Leah to head into NYC.  I'm already dreading the scoring and folding, but art is supposed to be hard, no?  Any new or old clients reading this who are interested in seeing the new portfolio themselves... please give me or Leah a call or e-mail and let's schedule a meeting!

10 Responses to “Long live the portfolio”

  1. e says:

    hey John – looks great… is the mini flash drive actual wood? super cool.

  2. John Loomis says:

    Thanks Embry – the USBs are real wood, sort of a mix between bamboo and some other light ones (couldn’t find pure bamboo, which is what the covers are). Best to you

  3. joe says:

    looking good man.

    Q: how much time % do you spend on promoting yourself Vs shooting pics these days ??

  4. John Loomis says:

    Thanks Joe – it’s always a balance… I shoot a lot of personal stuff, but especially when you are entering into a new market (and especially in such a bad economy) there is a lot of promotion to be done to be noticed. And honestly I also really enjoy design, branding, and some of the elements of promotion, so it’s not an either/or feeling to me. But it’s a good question and one I think about pretty much every hour of every day.

  5. [...] John Loomis latest portfolio and his bamboo USB thumbdrive with his digital portfolio [...]

  6. [...] of the Gulf Coast, powerful stuff. John Loomis does an about face and produces a yummy looking printed portfolio to go along with his adventures into the digital world – I like the bespoke USB stick too. [...]

  7. Hey John, the books look great. Love the cover.

    How did you drill the holes/score the paper on your own? I’ve been doing something similar to what you described, but I’m having trouble with the holes not lining up perfectly, and thus the page edges don’t line up together


  8. John Loomis says:

    Hi Jake – the drill/score is done completely by hand, one page at a time. I consulted with a couple of NYC bookbinders and they sort of shook their heads and said “holy shit” because of the thickness of my paper and time-consuming effort it would take. So I’m just using an old school punch that I smack with a rubber mallet, and then a scoring rotary blade. To do it DIY you’re also going to need a serious and heavy ruler/straight edge and a nice large protective matte with a grid on it is extremely helpful.

    I’m punching my holes after the sheets have already been printed x2, and when I begin the project I created a master template so that all of my holes would line up. Even with the template there is a tiny amount of variance, but it doesn’t bother me that much.

    Hope his helps a bit.

  9. Jake says:

    Thanks John. Cool that you’re so hands on with it, and that really must expand your options in terms of bleeds, using whatever paper you want, etc.

    I caved in and got some pre-punched/scored paper. It’s not cheap, and there are definitely limited options (well, really there was only one option where I got it) in terms of paper type.

    I do appreciate your input though… Definitely going to file that away for future books.

  10. John Walker says:

    I am curious if you tried to use any of the adjustable hole punches ?
    Your presentation and execution is really top notch.
    I am changing over to pages and hole punch like yours and have found covers but the papers are perplexing and expensive and diy seems like the way to go.

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